The International Student and Scholar Services office at MMC and BBC welcomes thousands of foreign students and scholars from 144 different countries pursuing their undergraduate and graduate studies at FIU, as well as students here only for exchange semesters or years.
As stated on its web page, the office provides assistance with a “wide range of important and practical information and guidance to help make your transition into our university and your new life as smooth and comfortable as possible.” This includes academic assistance like tutoring information, advising references, among others.
ISSS also provides legal assistance in terms of immigration compliance, and community information so that international students don’t feel left out of the Miami community.
Even with the push towards inclusion, it’s difficult to find international students if you’re not one, and likely just as challenging to make friends with the resident students if you’re part of the international tribe.
While ISSS offers a hand in inviting foreign students into the community, it can be a daunting goal to immerse oneself in a new culture with foreign friends and get a proper American/Miami experience.
With the Office of Study Abroad’s exchange buddy program currently in its inaugural year, this is made easier.
In their mutual nature of fostering foreign student affairs, the difference is that the OSA handles incoming and outgoing exchange students and ISSS handles long-term and short-term incoming exchange students and scholars.
The exchange buddy program pairs returning FIU students with exchange students so that they have someone familiar with the campus and the greater Miami area. They can ask questions and explore without feeling like a tourist or like they don’t quite belong.
If this program were extended to freshman international students planning on completing their studies at FIU, there would be less of a divide between the international and the “domestic” students attending.
They would have more of an opportunity to find each other, discover friendships, prevent as many lost-in-translation moments and explore one another’s culture the way it should be done at a university with ‘international’ as its middle name.
Photo taken from Flickr.